June 1, 2022

How to approach a jazz bar or club owner as a musician

I work on multiple sides of the music business, so I'm giving you advice based on my experience; you don't have to agree, and I'm happy if you challenge me and want to get into a healthy discussion about anything. Let's talk about how people approach club owners.

Communicating with a jazz venue owner online

How you approach a prospective venue for your music is more art than science. Once you’ve done your research, the next step is to approach the club owner.

As you know, we’re in an era where communications are quick and short, and some of the formality in our communications has gone by the wayside. I’m not telling you for one second that I'm so revered that you need to approach me in a super nice, thoughtful, and delicate way. That's not what I'm getting at.

However, sending me an email like, “Yo, bro, I hear you're the cat in Vancouver, I have a piano trio and I want a gig!” That's not your best approach.

You may think I'm exaggerating, but you’d never guess how often I get emails like that, being called bro or dude. Or Weeds: people write, “Hey Weeds,” and I've never met them before. That's one thing that gets on my nerves, personally. My name is Cory. You don’t have to call me Mr. Weeds, Sir, or anything like that, but you need to approach me in a respectful manner.

Be careful: don’t be too vague

When I get emails like, “Hey, I play guitar, and I can do anything from duo to trio, quartet, and quintet formats,” I delete them.

We can all play in duos and trios, and quartets and quintets. I think I can speak for most presenters that it doesn't go over well; I need to know what you want to  present at the club.

5 points on what to say about yourself

What I need to know is:

  • who you are
  • what you play
  • what your band is about (and who’s in your band)
  • what your music is about (maybe a little backstory here)
  • whether or not you have an album, are preparing to record one, etc.

Make it brief. When I get an email from somebody, it’s the first impression I get of how they present themselves. If you present yourself in a professional, organized, concise way, I'll assume that you’ll come across on stage well, and it’ll be good for everyone.